America Fights for Religious Freedom at Home and Abroad, Pompeo Says

More than 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries that restrict religious freedom
September 24, 2018 Updated: September 24, 2018

WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration has placed religious freedom at the center of its foreign-policy agenda.

Speaking at the 13th Annual Values Voter Summit, Pompeo said, “Since the earliest days of this presidency, President Trump has directed all of us in his administration to advance and defend religious freedom at home and abroad.”

More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that restrict freedom of religion and belief, Pompeo said, singling out “the Islamic Republic of Iran” and China in his remarks.

“We stand with the Christians, the Jews, the Sufis, the Muslims, Zoroastrians, the Baha’i, and all other faith groups in Iran who have had their human dignity violated by this regime,” he said.

“Another example is in China,” he continued. “Hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps, where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses.”

Pompeo also raised concerns about “the intense new government crackdown on Christians in China, which includes heinous actions like closing churches, burning Bibles, and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith.”

Religious-freedom conditions continued to deteriorate in countries around the world in 2017, according to a recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a U.S. government advisory body that monitors religious freedoms abroad.

In the report, 10 countries, including China, were designated as “countries of particular concern.”

China’s human-rights record has been criticized for decades. Religious groups and minorities in China have been subjected to systematic arrests, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and brainwashing. More shocking is the forced organ harvesting from prisoners, which has become a multibillion-dollar industry, according to human-rights advocates.

Pompeo also talked about the first U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held at the State Department in Washington in July. More than 40 foreign ministers and representatives from 80 countries attended the July meeting.

Pompeo called the ministerial a unique event, where other countries stood “with the United States in our cause of defending the rights of all individuals to worship how they choose and to believe what and how they want.”

“I hope it’ll become a tradition that is honored by decades of happening, and I hope to attend the 30th, 40th, and 50th ministerials,” he said, adding his wish for it to become a landmark gathering for the world.

The Values Voter Summit is an annual political conference hosted by the Family Research Council, an American conservative Christian nonprofit charity and activist group. The summit aims to inform and mobilize citizens across the country to protect the values of traditional marriage, religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and limited government.

Pompeo touted the administration’s efforts to bring home three Americans who had been imprisoned in North Korea, calling the rescue effort “the greatest highlight to date of my job as secretary of state.”

He also affirmed the administration’s commitment to bring home Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has been held in Turkey for almost two years.

“We are sparing no effort to return Pastor Brunson home to the United States. The work is important. He has been wrongly held,” he said.

Brunson’s daughter, Jacqueline Brunson Furnari, spoke after Pompeo’s remarks during a panel discussion about her father’s captivity in Turkey.

“Twenty-five years ago, my dad decided to follow God’s call on his life and move to Turkey to preach the gospel to share God’s love with the Turks,” she said.

“In this indictment, my father’s crime is named as ‘Christianization,’ essentially equating it to terrorism and espionage and it is, for the most part, based on secret witnesses’ testimony,” she said, adding that her family is waiting for the next court date, which is Oct. 12.

“It’s a sham trial and my dad is being used as a bargaining chip.”

Socialist Agenda

Speaking at the summit, Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, stressed the importance of “the values and the principles that made us into a great nation.”

He also addressed the controversy surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process and tied the sexual-assault allegations to a socialist agenda.

“If you really understand the big picture of what’s been going on, then what’s going on with Judge Kavanaugh will make perfectly good sense to you,” he said. “There have been people in this country for a very long time—go all the way back to the Fabians—who have wanted to fundamentally change this country.”

The Fabian Society is a British socialist organization formed in 1884 to advance socialist policies.

“They don’t like what America is and what it represents, and they want to change us to another system,” Carson said. “In order to do that, there are three things that they must control: the educational system, the media, and the courts. OK? The first two they have. The courts they thought they had, and it was snatched out from under their noses in November of 2016.”

Carson called the opposition desperate and blames them for resorting to chaos and destruction.

“And now they don’t see themselves as being able to control the courts for another generation,” he said.

“So what is left? Chaos and destruction.”

Follow Emel on Twitter: @mlakan